Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tolkien 2009 at UVM — Schedule

A few months ago, I told you about an upcoming conference at the University of Vermont in Burlington, the same one I’ve attended the past three years (but will be sitting out this year). Well, from “upcoming”, the conference has now “upcome” — it’s next weekend! Unfortunately, this also coincides with Easter, but for any of you able to attend, I highly recommend it. And I can now give you an idea of what you’ll be in for.

Before I do that (so that it doesn’t get lost at the tail end of the schedule), let me whet your appetite for next’s year’s event: The Tolkien 2010 Conference at UVM will be April 9–11, 2010. The theme is “Tolkien in the Classroom”, with the keynote — quite appropriately, since she has a forthcoming book on this topic — delivered by Leslie Donovan of the University of New Mexico. And now, back to this year’s event …

TOLKIEN 2009, APRIL 10–11
Theme: Sex and Gender in Tolkien’s Middle-earth

Open-mike fireside Tolkien reading and performance
Henderson’s Cafe, Davis Center
7:30–9:30 pm

Full Day Conference
Memorial Lounge Auditorium
Waterman Building

Continental Breakfast, 8:00 am [aka “The Ovarium”]

Session I — Difference: Sexual, Gendered, and Spiritual
8:30–10:00 am

  • ‘Not all Tears are an Evil’: Tragedy and Consolation in The Lord of Rings – Elizabeth Bateman (Washington College)
  • Tolkien’s Theory of Gender in The Silmarillion – Corey Olsen (Washington College)
  • ‘(As it were) a Vocation’: Frodo’s Celibacy from Tolkien’s Traditional Catholic Perspective – Trudy G. Shaw (Creighton University)

Session II — Tolkien and the Literary Tradition
10:00–11:30 am

  • Mirrored Images: Similarities Between Éowyn in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice – Jessica Safran (Central Michigan University)
  • History, Love, and Bodies: Tolkien and Morris – James Williamson (University of Vermont)
  • Bewildered by Loss in Sir Orfeo and The Children of Húrin – Rob Wakeman (University of Maryland, College Park)

Lunch break, 11:30–1:00 pm

1:00–2:00 pm

  • ‘In the Company of Orcs’: Peter Jackson's Queer Tolkien – Jane Chance (Rice University)

Session III — Theorizing Tolkien
2:00–3:30 pm

  • A Hegelian Reading of the Elves: Synthesizing the Master-Slave Dialectic in The Silmarillion – Jacob Seliger (University of Arizona)
  • Queer Theory and Tolkien’s Middle-earth – Christopher Vaccaro (University of Vermont)
  • Elfin Agency: Performativity and Arwen Evenstar in The Lord of the Rings – James Weldon (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Afternoon break, 3:30–3:45 pm

Session IV — Roundtable Discussion
3:45–5:00 pm

  • Sexualities and Genders in Middle-earth


  1. I'm a student at UVM and I'm currently enrolled in a Tolkien's Middle Earth class, and we're required to attend this conference. I think it's going to be great, and it's really wonderful that there's other people outside of the Burlington community that are aware of this conference! It's actually sort of weird, I always imagined this was a relatively small local thing, but I seem to be coming across it a lot, which is actually really cool, I'm very excited about this weekend.

  2. Hi, Leia. Or should I say “Your Worshipfulness”? ;) You’re a biochemistry major, eh? Tolkien certainly attracts all types. How have you been enjoying Dr. Vaccaro’s class?

    I think the conference is still a fairly small, mostly local affair, as you’ve imagined, but I do my part to publicize it, as do a few others I know. It speaks very well of the conference (and the larger appeal of Vermont in April) that it attracts a lot of “repeat customers”, both those speaking and those attending. I plan to be back next year. Please feel free to drop back by hear and leave comments about the conference itself. I’d love to hear how it went.

  3. Haha, yep, I'm a biochem geek! I absolutely love the class, it's so much fun, and as much as I adore Tolkien, I've learned so much more than I could have possibly imagined about Middle Earth.

    Yeah, I'd heard about the conference before I made the decision to attend UVM, which helped influence my decision to attend, and although it's still fairly local it's actually a pretty big thing on campus. I'll definitely let you know how it goes, especially because I was selected to join a small number of students and professors to enjoy a dinner after the conference with the guest speaker, Jane Chance, which I'm very excited about. Keep up the publicity!

  4. Ah, if I were going to be there this year, we could have met. I always go to the dinner Saturday night. I hope you enjoy it! :)

  5. I went to the 2009 conference for the first time last spring. I thought it was excellent. I plan to go again in 2010. All of the presenters did a great job.

  6. Thanks, anon. I would have loved to attend this year, but Tolkien 2010 at UVM conflicts with another conference, the C.S. Lewis and Inklings Society’s 13th annual gathering. The latter is just a three-hour drive for me (as opposed to a 1,500-mile airplane trip). Please feel free to drop back by and let us know how Tolkien 2010 goes. :)


    UVM has put information on Face Book about the Tolkien Conference